Has she gone broody?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by mrstrouty, Mar 1, 2013.

  1. mrstrouty

    mrstrouty Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 4, 2012
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    Hi, I'm really new to the whole chicken thing and have a few questions. My hen is in her nesting box and not coming out this morning. Her body is placed totally different than when she's just laying an egg. Instead of her wings to her side, she has them spread out as if she's covering the eggs to warm them. If she's trying to hatch the eggs, can anyone tell me how long it takes to hatch an egg and how many hrs a day she needs to actually stay on the nest to incubate them? Thanks in advance for any information you can give me.
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    There are a lot of typical behaviors for broodies. Flattening in the nest and zoning out is one. They will often be very defensive of the nest and swell up and threaten you if you get close. They normally leave the nest once a day to eat, drink, and poop. That poop is often really large and stinky because they’ve been holding it. They normally walk around puffed up and making a regular pocking sound. All these are typical behaviors but not all broodies do all of them. I’ve also had hens not really serious enough about going broody exhibit a lot of these behaviors.

    Something else broodies do. They stay on the nest 24/7 except when they leave for their daily constitutional. In warm weather, these constitutionals may last over an hour and they may take more than one a day. In cold weather they don’t last long and they don’t take many of them. But they always spend the night on the nest instead of roosting. My test is that the broody has to spend two consecutive nights on the nest before I trust her with eggs. You are dealing with living animals so nothing is guaranteed, but if they spend two consecutive nights on the nest before I give them eggs, they have always hatched chicks for me.

    If she truly is broody, you need to collect all the eggs you want her to hatch and start them at the same time. If you don’t start them at the same time, you get what is called a staggered hatch. You can deal with that in an incubator, though it can be challenging. With a broody that generally means the late eggs don’t hatch.

    Something else you need to do is mark the eggs you want her to hatch and check under her daily to remove any eggs that are not marked. As long as you collect these extra eggs every day, you can still use them. Other hens might lay with the broody or the broody may even carry eggs from other nests back to hers. That’s fairly rare but yes, they can really do that. Gathering the extras daily will stop that staggered hatch problem, but also if a hen gets so many eggs she can’t cover them all, you usually get very poor hatch rates. If the hen is really defensive of her nest, you might want to wear long sleeves and gloves when you check her nest. I check late in the day after all the other hens have finished laying and just toss her off the nest. Sometimes they’ll take a mini-constitutional and sometimes they hop right back on the nest.

    As long as you start the eggs at the same time and check for new ones, you don’t have to do anything else. Hens have been doing this for thousands of years with no human intervention.

    Good luck!
     
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  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Now I’ll get to your specific question on days. Sorry, I forgot that in saying all that other stuff. The hours a day depends on you weather, but they certainly include all night.

    A chicken egg normally takes 21 full days to hatch. That’s ideal and theory. I’ve had eggs hatch two days early in an incubator and under a broody. There are a lot of things that can affect exactly when an egg hatches, whether a little early or late, but 21 days is the target.

    A lot of people get it wrong when counting the days. An egg does not have 24 hours’ worth of development two seconds or two hours after you start incubating them. It takes 24 hours for an egg to have a day’s worth of development. An easy way to figure this is the day of the week you set them is the day they should hatch. If you set them on a Friday, they should hatch on a Friday 3 weeks later.

    The reason so many people can count the days wrong and it not be a huge deal is that the time to hatch is not very precise. It is not at all unusual for eggs from the same flock treated exactly the same to hatch more than a day apart. It’s just the differences in the eggs.
     
  4. mrstrouty

    mrstrouty Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 4, 2012
    Wilburton,Pa
    Thank you so much for the information, it was very helpful [​IMG]
     

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